Independently of one another, reunion tours and album anniversary tours can be curious beasts from time to time. And while The Loved Ones never officially split up a few years ago, the brief, recently-wrapped run of shows celebrating the 10th anniversary of their debut album, Keep Your Heart (Fat Wreck Chords) had all the makings of both of those curious beasts wrapped into one high-energy package. The five-piece (Dave Hause on vocals/guitar/keyboard/stick), “Uncle” David Walsh and Christopher Gonzalez on guitar, Spider Cotterman on bass and Michael Sneeringer on drums) rolled through the Sinclair in Cambridge, Massachusetts, (which should look familiar if you’ve been reading these posts over the last few days) as they wound down the East Coast portion of the tour, and to sum up the evening by way of a rather pointed question directly to the band: “where the fuck have you been?!?”
Check your Facebook and/or Twitter and/or Instagram feeds anytime any one of your friends is out at a show that you’re not at, and you’ll undoubtedly learn that such-and-such band is “killing it” or “destroying” or “slaying” or whatever. It is beyond safe to label such terms ‘hyperbole’ on almost 100% of reported occasions. Almost 100%. Because if there were ever really a case where such terminology applies, it’s cases where a band completely and totally owns not only a stage, but an entire venue; when a band works in functions in total unison like a sort of musical Voltron. Am I referring to The Loved Ones as a sort of musical Voltron? Yeah, I guess I am (I haven’t slept in like a week, deal with it). In any event, from the time the opening bell sounded by way of the first notes of “Breathe In,” Hause and company were lock tight and never really wavered from start to finish.
The hour-plus set drew consisted, as you’d imagine, of Keep Your Heart in its entirety, but thankfully not in order. Sure, there’s some benefit or appeal to a band playing an album start-to-finish for nostalgia purposes. However, for a couple reasons, this isn’t always the preferred option; first, because it’s 2016 and people, sadly, don’t really listen to albums straight through anymore; perhaps more importantly, however, is the fact that what compromises a cohesive album and what makes for a dynamic setlist are not always identical things. As an added benefit, these shows also include the band’s self-titled debut EP (released in 2005 via Jade Tree Records). Hause alternated between playing guitar and serving as quintessential frontman (accompanied, at times, by a large walking stick, giving the impression — either real or accidental — of a sort of punk rock Rafiki), spending as much time perched on the monitors at stage center, breathing life into a crowd that seemed to simultaneously be breathing life into the band in perfect unison.
The ubiquitous Mikey Erg and upstart Philly three-piece Cayetana provided opening duties on this particular evening. It can be somewhat difficult for a solo artist to open an at-capacity punk rock show, but the Stratocaster-wielding Erg is a seasoned veteran, playing about as high-energy a set as you’ll find a solo performer pull off. Cayetana have become one of yours truly’s favorite new bands in recent years, so watching them spread their proverbial wings provided by the larger stage and venue size at Sinclair served as a welcome sign of things to come for a band that are destined for continually bigger and better things.
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